The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXV. Scholars

§ 36. Virginia

To teach Germanic philology Jefferson appointed George Blaetterman, a German then resident in London, to the first professorship of Modern Languages in the University of Virginia, a post which he held from 1825 to 1840. He is said to have “found peculiar pleasure” in comparative philology and to have contributed, with George Long, to a Comparative Grammar. Blaetterman was succeeded by Charles Kraitsir, who published among other works a Glossology: Being a Treatise on the Nature of Language and on the Language of Nature (New York, 1852). The third incumbent was Maximilian Schele DeVere, who published several works upon French, Spanish, and English, as well as two upon Americanisms. Probably the first Anglo-Saxon texts and grammar to be published in America were those edited by Louis F. Klipstein, a native of Virginia and a graduate of Hampden-Sidney College, who also studied at Giessen. In 1844 he edited in Charleston the Polyglott, a monthly magazine “devoted to the French, German, Spanish, and Italian Languages.” His Grammar of the Anglo-Saxon Language and Analecta Anglo-Saxonica—Selections in Prose and Verse from the Anglo-Saxon Literature (two volumes), both indebted to Thorpe, were much used as text books and went through several editions. He wrote and edited other books dealing with Anglo-Saxon, and planned still more, all of them deriving not from the German scholarship of his day but from English models.

Old English, thus first cultivated in Virginia, was taught from 1839 to 1842 at Randolph-Macon College, Virginia, by Edward Dromgoole Simms. At Amherst it was taught as early as 1841, if not before, by William Chauncey Fowler, Noah Webster’s son-in-law. In 1851 Child introduced it at Harvard. In 1856 it reached Lafayette; in 1867, Haverford; in 1868, St. John’s College; in 1871, Cornell; and by 1875 it was read at Columbia and the University of Wisconsin, and at Yale in the Sheffield Scientific School and the Post-Graduate Department.